If you’ve ever had to repair a flat tire on the road, you’ve probably used the jack that is included with your car, which is likely to be a scissor jack. While this type of jack can do the job just fine, it is meant for very limited use and is not the proper tool to have in your home, garage or repair shop.
What you need instead is a floor jack. Floor jacks are not as compact and lightweight as scissor jacks, but then again, they were not designed to fit snugly inside the trunk of your car. They can still be quite portable, and on top of that they are heavy duty tools and can lift up to several tons of weight and last you for several years.
In this guide, we will review three of the best floor jacks available out there for both recreational and professional use.
2 Ton Low Profile Steel Service Jack
One of the first things you should decide when buying a new floor jack is whether you should get one made of steel or aluminum. A steel jack is generally heavier than an aluminum one, but also cheaper. Besides, people tend to regard steel as the sturdiest material, although some aluminum alloys can be extremely strong.
The general belief is that you can only get a good quality, solid aluminum jack by spending a lot more money. However, with that, you will also get a much lighter piece of equipment, potentially weighing 20% less. So if budget is your priority, go for a steel jack. If you prefer a lighter alternative with a more premium feel, buy an aluminum one.
This brings us to the first option on our list, a steel service jack from Arcan, the XL20. It has a nice, albeit small 2-ton capacity, and, at just 26’’ x 13.2’’ x 6.3’’, is quite compact in size. However, it is also much heavier than its competition, weighing 67.2 pounds. The lift range is a nice 3.5’’ to 18.1’’.
This low-profile steel jack features a dual pump system for rapid lifting and a universal joint for the release valve. It also features a safety valve that prevents you from loading the jack with a weight above the maximum capacity. Another nice feature is the rubber coating on the saddle pad, designed to safeguard the vehicle’s frame.
To top it off, the XL20 is compliant with the ASME PALD 2009 standard, which is the safety standard for portable automotive lifting devices. This means you’ll get a solid, reliable floor jack that, if handled well, won’t give you any trouble.
3 Ton Aluminum and Steel Garage Jack
Coming up next is the Powerzone 380044, a floor jack by Milestone Tools. This one has a 3-ton capacity and incorporates both aluminum and steel. The aluminum body is there to make it lighter (which it does, weighing only 59.1 pounds) and the lift arm is made of heavy duty steel to give it the best lift strength possible.
The Powerzone 380044 is a tad larger than the XL20, measuring 28.4’’ x 13.9’’ x 7.4’’, however, it is still quite portable. The lift range (4’’ to 18.25’’) is also quite good for a non-low-profile unit. It boasts a dual-cylinder quick lifting hydraulic system, and in fact, it can reach its maximum height with only 6 full strokes while unloaded.
Like the XL20, the aluminum/steel hybrid carries a rubber padded saddle to protect the vehicle from scratching as well as a safety valve that prevents overloading the jack. Another nice detail is the swiveling rear wheels that facilitate easier positioning.
However, we felt that some details were lacking. The packaging and assembly are not the most user-friendly especially because the heavy wire that holds the jack in place is under great stress and could be dangerous if you’re not careful.
Also, although the build quality seems good overall, you may encounter problems. At times, the bolts are not so sturdy and the release valve is too loose, making the jack come down suddenly instead of smoothly.
3 Ton Aluminum Floor Jack
The last contender on our list is the pure aluminum, premium-feel Arcan ALJ3T. It has a capacity of 3 tons, like the Powerzone 380044, and is a bit larger, measuring 30’’ x 13.5’’ x 8’’. However, thanks to the all-aluminum build, it is the lightest jack of this review, weighing only 56 pounds.
The ALJ3T can be lifted between 3.6 and 19.4 inches, making it also the best in this field. The dual pump lifting system allows you to reach the maximum height without load in 12 strokes. Do not be fooled by the aluminum lift arm, because this one has a reinforced design that even reduces the chassis torsion. This jack is as strong as a steel jack, and complies with the 2009 ASME PALD standard, just like its brother XL20.
Besides the usual overload valve, it also carries a bypass valve that prevents the hydraulic ram from overextending. This is just one of several nice details featured in the ALJ3T. Another one is the swiveling rear wheels, which the Powerzone 380044 also has.
The saddle pad is rubberized to protect the vehicle, as usual. Moreover, the 2-piece operating handle has a foam cover to prevent the occasional dent as well as a quick lock system to quickly secure it in place. To top it all off, there is a convenient carry handle on the side for improved portability.
We have looked at three excellent floor jacks, but in the end, only one can emerge victorious. In this case, it was the Arcan ALJ3T, which has all the features you would expect, and more. With an all-aluminum design, it is the lightest of the three, and also has the best lifting range and the best additional features, like the handlebar foam coating, the bypass valve, and the side carry handle.
The other two jacks are in slightly different categories, each one with its own merits. The XL20 from Arcan has only a 2-ton capacity but provides good value for the money with a sturdy steel build. The Powerzone 380044 is a 3-ton capacity jack, with an aluminum body and a heavy duty steel lift arm. However, some details could have been given more thought.